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The brand extension (also referred to as the brand split) is the separation of
WWE World Wrestling Entertainment, Inc., d/b/a WWE, is an American integrated media and entertainment company that is primarily known for professional wrestling Professional wrestling is a type of athletic exhibition and entertainment involving ...
's talent roster (and, at various times, creative staff) into distinct divisions, or "brands". The strict adherence to the on-screen integrity of the brand split has varied over time. In March 2002, the World Wrestling Federation (WWF, now WWE) began promoting its core business of
professional wrestling Professional wrestling is a form of entertainment and , which combines athletics with performance. It comprises of exhibitions, called 'matches', held by touring companies called , in a style and structure mimicking competitive . The progres ...
through two distinct brands, named after their two major television shows ''
Raw Raw is an adjective usually describing: * Raw materials, basic materials from which products are manufactured or made * Raw food, uncooked food Raw or RAW may also refer to: Computing * .RAW, a proprietary mass spectrometry data format * Raw audi ...
'' and '' SmackDown!''. From 2006 to 2010, a third brand existed for their television show '' ECW'', which was a revived version of the former promotion. The first
brand extension Brand extension or brand stretching is a marketing strategy in which a firm A company, abbreviated as co., is a Legal personality, legal entity representing an association of people, whether Natural person, natural, Legal personality, legal ...
ended on August 29, 2011, after which the
Raw Raw is an adjective usually describing: * Raw materials, basic materials from which products are manufactured or made * Raw food, uncooked food Raw or RAW may also refer to: Computing * .RAW, a proprietary mass spectrometry data format * Raw audi ...
and
SmackDown ''WWE SmackDown'', also known as ''Friday Night SmackDown'' or simply ''SmackDown'', is an American professional wrestling Professional wrestling is a type of athletic exhibition and entertainment involving wrestling matches whose progress and ...
brands were dissolved. On May 25, 2016, WWE announced a relaunch of the brand extension, billed as the "New Era". The second brand extension went into effect on July 19, 2016, when ''SmackDown'' began broadcasting live on Tuesdays. In addition to Raw and SmackDown, during the second split WWE has operated three other brands: NXT (formerly a developmental territory that launched in 2012, but now promoted as WWE's third global brand since 2019);
NXT UK ''NXT UK'' is a professional wrestling Professional wrestling is a type of athletic exhibition and entertainment involving wrestling matches whose progress and outcome are planned in advance, typically between performers with established chara ...
, a
United Kingdom The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, commonly known as the United Kingdom (UK) or Britain,Usage is mixed. The Guardian' and Telegraph' use Britain as a synonym for the United Kingdom. Some prefer to use Britain as shorth ...

United Kingdom
-based brand launched in 2018; and
205 Live ''WWE 205 Live'', also shortened to ''205 Live'' (pronounced as "two-o-five live"), is a professional wrestling Professional wrestling is a type of athletic exhibition and entertainment involving wrestling matches whose progress and outcome are ...
, a
cruiserweightCruiserweight is a term associated with: *Cruiserweight (boxing), a weight class in boxing between light heavyweight and heavyweight *Cruiserweight (MMA), a weight class in mixed martial arts with an upper weight limit at 225 lbs. *Cruiserweight (pr ...
-exclusive brand also launched in 2018—the latter two are promoted under the NXT banner. In September 2021, NXT would be rebooted as NXT 2.0 which mostly returned the brand to its developmental roots. Wrestlers are allocated to a brand via the annual
draft Draft, The Draft, or Draught may refer to: Watercraft dimensions * Draft (hull), the distance from waterline to keel of a vessel * Draft (sail), degree of curvature in a sail * Air draft, distance from waterline to the highest point on a vessel ...
. From 2017 to 2019, the draft was replaced with the "Superstar Shake-up", where WWE talent were drafted behind the scenes. Following ''SmackDown''s move to
FOX Foxes are small to medium-sized, s belonging to several of the family . They have a flattened skull, upright triangular ears, a pointed, slightly upturned , and a long bushy (or ''brush''). Twelve belong to the "true foxes" group of ge ...
and return to Friday Nights in October 2019, a second draft was held for that year and returned to a traditional format. The brand extension is not a concept that began with WWE - indeed, one of the greatest successes of former competitor
World Championship Wrestling World Championship Wrestling, Inc. (WCW) was an American professional wrestling promotion A professional wrestling promotion is a company A company, abbreviated as co., is a Legal personality, legal entity representing an association of people ...
(WCW) was its
New World OrderNew World Order may refer to: * New World Order (conspiracy theory), a conspiracy theory referring to the emergence of a totalitarian one-world government * New world order (politics), any period of history evidencing a dramatic change in world polit ...
(nWo) stable, which, at the height of its success, was always referred to as its own promotion - going so far as to co-brand all pay-per-view events as "WCW/nWo" beginning in 1998. Yet, the overuse of the nWo led to little fan interest when a new nWo-exclusive show (which would become
WCW Thunder ''WCW Thunder'', or simply ''Thunder'', is a professional wrestling Professional wrestling is a type of athletic exhibition and entertainment involving wrestling matches whose progress and outcome are planned in advance, typically between per ...
) was proposed, and the nWo-exclusive
Souled Out Souled Out was a professional wrestling Professional wrestling is a type of athletic exhibition and entertainment involving wrestling matches whose progress and outcome are planned in advance, typically between performers with established char ...
pay-per-view received a low buyrate.


History


2002 split

In 2001, the
Monday Night Wars The Monday Night Wars were a period of mainstream televised American professional wrestling in which the WWE, World Wrestling Federation's (WWF, now WWE) ''WWE Raw, Monday Night Raw'' and World Championship Wrestling's (WCW) ''WCW Monday Nitro, Mo ...
, the rivalry between the then-WWF and its arch-rival
promotion Promotion may refer to: Marketing * Promotion (marketing), one of the four marketing mix elements, comprising any type of marketing communication used to inform or persuade target audiences of the relative merits of a product, service, brand or i ...
World Championship Wrestling World Championship Wrestling, Inc. (WCW) was an American professional wrestling promotion A professional wrestling promotion is a company A company, abbreviated as co., is a Legal personality, legal entity representing an association of people ...
(WCW), ended with the WWF emerging victorious. The WWF would acquire all assets of WCW, and later
Extreme Championship Wrestling HHG Corporation, doing business as Extreme Championship Wrestling (ECW), was a and media company that was based in . The promotion was founded in 1992 by and in 1993, businessman took over the creative end of the promotion from Eddie Gilber ...
(ECW); (the third largest promotion in the United States at this point in time), through separate
buyout In finance, a buyout is an investment To invest is to allocate money Image:National-Debt-Gillray.jpeg, In a 1786 James Gillray caricature, the plentiful money bags handed to King George III are contrasted with the beggar whose legs and arms ...
s that included the employees (on and off-air talent) from both companies. The sales had left WWF as the sole wrestling promotion in the world with international television distribution (until the national expansion of
Total Nonstop Action Wrestling Impact Wrestling (stylized as ''IMPACT! Wrestling'') is an American professional wrestling promotion A professional wrestling promotion is a company A company, abbreviated as co., is a Legal personality, legal entity representing an assoc ...
(TNA) in 2004 and much later,
All Elite Wrestling All Elite Wrestling, LLC (AEW) is an American founded in 2019. Its inception was announced by and his son , with the former acting as the promotion's lead investor, and the latter being the founder, president and CEO of the company. Professio ...
(AEW) in 2019 in a larger scale). With the acquisition of new talent, the WWF's already large roster was doubled in size. In order to allow equal opportunity to all roster members, the company endorsed a
brand extension Brand extension or brand stretching is a marketing strategy in which a firm A company, abbreviated as co., is a Legal personality, legal entity representing an association of people, whether Natural person, natural, Legal personality, legal ...
to have the WWF represented and promoted with two brands,
Raw Raw is an adjective usually describing: * Raw materials, basic materials from which products are manufactured or made * Raw food, uncooked food Raw or RAW may also refer to: Computing * .RAW, a proprietary mass spectrometry data format * Raw audi ...
and SmackDown!, named after the promotion's two primary television programs, ''
Raw Raw is an adjective usually describing: * Raw materials, basic materials from which products are manufactured or made * Raw food, uncooked food Raw or RAW may also refer to: Computing * .RAW, a proprietary mass spectrometry data format * Raw audi ...
'' and '' SmackDown!'', respectively. In early 2002, the idea was put in motion to separate the WWF's two shows into distinct brands while both being under the WWF banner. One year prior, the original plan was to create a new WCW (which would be an independent entity in the storylines but would be under the WWF's auspices in reality), and for this new WCW to take over ''Raw'' and use the show to recreate its WCW counterpart, ''
WCW Monday Nitro ''WCW Monday Nitro'', also known as ''WCW Nitro'' or simply ''Nitro'', was a professional wrestling television program that was produced by World Championship Wrestling and broadcast weekly every Monday night on TNT (American TV network), TNT fr ...
'' (The WWF was unable to find a television time slot for WCW due to its exclusivity deal with Viacom). This experiment was first made on July 2, 2001, when the final twenty minutes of ''Raw'' in Tacoma was given to WCW programming, in which the ''Raw'' crew was largely replaced (with Scott Hudson and
Arn Anderson Martin Anthony Lunde (born September 20, 1958), better known by the ring name A ring name is a type of stage name A stage name is a pseudonym used by performers and entertainers such as actors, comedians, singers, and musicians. Such title ...
doing commentary, as well as a major stage overhaul) to present a match between
Buff Bagwell Marcus Alexander Bagwell (born January 10, 1970) is an American professional wrestler Professional wrestling is a type of athletic exhibition and entertainment involving wrestling matches whose progress and outcome are planned in advance, typi ...

Buff Bagwell
and
Booker TBooker T or Booker T. may refer to * Booker T. Washington (1856–1915), African American political leader at the turn of the 20th century ** List of things named after Booker T. Washington, some nicknamed "Booker T." * Booker T. Jones (born 1944) ...
for the
WCW World Heavyweight Championship The WCW World Heavyweight Championship was a professional wrestling Professional wrestling is a type of athletic exhibition and entertainment involving wrestling matches whose progress and outcome are planned in advance, typically between perfor ...
, which he won on the final ''Nitro''. The match was met with negative reactions from the fans and viewers at home, when the WWF wrestlers interfered at the end of the match. With WWF focused on splitting its roster, the Invasion storyline was used as a second resort. Following the end of the angle at
Survivor Series Survivor Series is a professional wrestling Professional wrestling is a form of entertainment and performing art, which combines athletics with performance. It comprises of exhibitions, called 'matches', held by touring companies called P ...
, the WWF executed their alternate plan, which was to separate the two shows themselves: previously, wrestlers appeared on both ''Raw'' and ''SmackDown'', but with this extension, wrestlers would be exclusive to only one show. Only the Undisputed WWF Champion and the
WWF Women's ChampionWWF may refer to: Non-profit organizations *World Wide Fund for Nature The World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) is an international non-governmental organization founded in 1961 that works in the field of wilderness preservation and the reductio ...
were exempt and could appear on both shows. This would change as both championships were later assigned to a brand. The extension started on March 25, 2002, with a draft on ''Raw'' and went into effect one week later on April 1. The following month, the WWF was renamed to WWE. On June 13, 2006, after a reunion PPV and video releases, WWE announced an addition to its prime time programming with '' ECW on Sci-Fi''. The new ECW served as a third brand, and a revival of the original ECW promotion. Both instances of the brand extensions required that representatives of each brand draft "superstars" (terminology used by the company to refer to its contracted personnel) onto each brand in a draft lottery.


2006 ECW introduction

After WWE bought all the assets of
Extreme Championship Wrestling HHG Corporation, doing business as Extreme Championship Wrestling (ECW), was a and media company that was based in . The promotion was founded in 1992 by and in 1993, businessman took over the creative end of the promotion from Eddie Gilber ...
(ECW) in 2003, the company began releasing
DVD The DVD (common abbreviation for Digital Video Disc or Digital Versatile Disc) is a digital Digital usually refers to something using digits, particularly binary digits. Technology and computing Hardware *Digital electronics Digital electr ...

DVD
s promoting the original ECW. Soon afterwards, the company promoted two ECW reunion shows for ECW alumni entitled, ECW One Night Stand in 2005 and in
2006 2006 was designated as the International Year of Deserts and Desertification and the International Asperger syndrome, Asperger's Year. Events January * January 1 – Russia cuts the shipment of natural gas to Ukraine over a Russia–U ...
. On May 25, 2006, WWE announced a launch of a new brand, ECW, a revival of the 1990s promotion. The new brand debuted on on June 13, 2006, with its final episode on February 16, 2010, on the rebranded Syfy. It was replaced the following week with ''
WWE NXT ''WWE NXT'', also known as ''NXT 2.0'' or simply ''NXT '', is a professional wrestling Television show, television program. It is produced by the American professional wrestling promotion WWE, featuring performers from the promotion's NXT (WWE ...
''.


2016 split

On May 25, 2016, it was announced that beginning July 19, ''SmackDown'' would broadcast live on Tuesday nights, as opposed to being taped on Tuesdays and airing on Thursdays as it was previously, receiving a unique roster and set of writers compared to ''Raw'', thus restoring the brand extension. The draft took place on the live premiere episode of ''SmackDown'' to determine the rosters between both brands. On the July 11 episode of ''Raw'', Vince McMahon named Shane McMahon the (on-screen) commissioner for SmackDown and Stephanie McMahon the commissioner for Raw; both chose a General Manager for their respective shows. On the July 18 episode of ''Raw'', Stephanie McMahon chose
Mick Foley Michael Francis "Mick" Foley (born June 7, 1965) is an American actor, author, comedian, retired professional wrestler, and color commentator. He is currently signed to WWE. Foley worked for many wrestling promotions, including the World Wres ...

Mick Foley
as the Raw General Manager, and Shane McMahon chose
Daniel Bryan Bryan Lloyd Danielson (born May 22, 1981) is an American Professional wrestling, professional wrestler currently signed to WWE, where he performs on the SmackDown (WWE brand), SmackDown WWE brand extension, brand under the ring name Daniel Bryan ...
as the SmackDown General Manager. Due to ''Raw'' being a three-hour show and ''SmackDown'' being a two-hour show, Raw received three picks each round and SmackDown received two. Six draft picks had to be made amongst the non-title holders from WWE's developmental brand NXT.
Seth Rollins Colby Daniel Lopez (born May 28, 1986) is an American professional wrestler Professional wrestling is a type of athletic exhibition and entertainment involving wrestling matches whose progress and outcome are planned in advance, typically ...

Seth Rollins
was picked first by Raw, with WWE Champion
Dean Ambrose Jonathan David Good (born December 7, 1985), better known by the ring name A ring name is a type of stage name A stage name is a pseudonym used by performers and entertainers such as actors, comedians, singers, and musicians. Such titles a ...

Dean Ambrose
being SmackDown's first pick.


Programming effects


Interbrand competition

Interbrand competition was initially kept to a minimum, with wrestlers from all brands competing together only at pay-per-view events. However, from 2003 to 2007, all pay-per-view events became brand exclusive, leaving the "big four" pay-per-views (
WrestleMania WrestleMania is a professional wrestling event produced annually between mid-March and mid-April by WWE, an American professional wrestling promotion based in Stamford, Connecticut. WWE first produced the event in WrestleMania 1, 1985 and has s ...

WrestleMania
,
SummerSlam SummerSlam is a professional wrestling Professional wrestling is a form of entertainment and performing art, which combines athletics with performance. It comprises of exhibitions, called 'matches', held by touring companies called Profe ...
,
Survivor Series Survivor Series is a professional wrestling Professional wrestling is a form of entertainment and performing art, which combines athletics with performance. It comprises of exhibitions, called 'matches', held by touring companies called P ...
, and
Royal Rumble The Royal Rumble is a professional wrestling Professional wrestling is a type of athletic exhibition and entertainment involving wrestling matches whose progress and outcome are planned in advance, typically between performers with established ...

Royal Rumble
) as the only interbrand shows. Starting in late 2006, in an attempt to add more star power to the shows, interbrand matches became more common. Most notably, MNM and
The Hardy Boyz The Hardy Boyz were an American professional wrestling tag team consisting of real-life brothers Matt and Jeff Hardy. They are currently separated, with Matt signed to AEW and Jeff continued to perform in WWE. They first began teaming togeth ...

The Hardy Boyz
reformed, despite the teammates being on separate brands.
Bobby Lashley Franklin Roberto Lashley (born July 16, 1976) is an American professional wrestler Professional wrestling is a type of athletic exhibition and entertainment involving wrestling matches whose progress and outcome are planned in advance, typical ...

Bobby Lashley
was also notable for his interbrand action, as he was involved in a storyline with
Donald Trump Donald John Trump (born June 14, 1946) is an American politician A politician is a person active in party politics A political party is an organization that coordinates candidate A candidate, or nominee, is the prospective reci ...

Donald Trump
, against WWE Chairman
Vince McMahon Vincent Kennedy McMahon (; born August 24, 1945) is an American professional wrestling Professional wrestling is a form of entertainment and performing art, which combines athletics with performance. It comprises of exhibitions, called 'm ...

Vince McMahon
, which carried over from Raw through
WrestleMania 23 WrestleMania 23 was the 23rd annual WrestleMania professional wrestling pay-per-view (PPV) List of WWE pay-per-view events, event produced by WWE, World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE). It was held for wrestlers from the promotion's Raw (WWE brand), ...

WrestleMania 23
to ECW. The brief return of ''
Saturday Night's Main Event ''Saturday Night's Main Event'' is a professional wrestling television program that was produced by WWE (previously known as the World Wrestling Federation). Premiering in 1985, it originally aired on NBC in the United States as 29 occasional r ...
'' to
NBC The National Broadcasting Company (NBC) is an American American(s) may refer to: * American, something of, from, or related to the United States of America, commonly known as the United States The United States of America (USA), co ...
also led to more interaction between the brands. Interbrand competition returned with the reestablishment of the brand extension in 2016; the first interbrand match that occurred after the brand extension went into full effect was at
SummerSlam SummerSlam is a professional wrestling Professional wrestling is a form of entertainment and performing art, which combines athletics with performance. It comprises of exhibitions, called 'matches', held by touring companies called Profe ...
on August 21, 2016 where Raw's
Brock Lesnar Brock Edward Lesnar (; born July 12, 1977) is an United States, American-Canada, Canadian Professional wrestling, professional wrestler, retired Mixed martial arts, mixed martial artist, and retired professional American football, football pla ...
defeated SmackDown's
Randy Orton Randal Keith Orton (born April 1, 1980) is an American Professional wrestling, professional wrestler and actor. He is currently signed to WWE, where he performs on the Raw (WWE brand), Raw brand. Orton is a third-generation professional wres ...

Randy Orton
. The next large interbrand matches occurred at
Survivor Series Survivor Series is a professional wrestling Professional wrestling is a form of entertainment and performing art, which combines athletics with performance. It comprises of exhibitions, called 'matches', held by touring companies called P ...
on November 20, 2016, featuring traditional Survivor Series elimination tag team matches between Raw and SmackDown, and beginning the following year, the event became about brand supremacy; in addition to the traditional Survivor Series matches, each champion of the Raw brand faces their counterpart of the SmackDown brand in non-title matches (e.g., the Universal Champion against the WWE Champion). Following the 2019 WWE Superstar Shake-up, a Wild Card Rule was introduced. Interbrand competition became much more frequent, with interbrand matches occurring weekly on ''Raw'' and ''SmackDown Live'', as well as at pay-per-views. With a second draft of 2019 occurring in October, the Wild Card Rule was abolished. In May 2020, select and limited interbrand matches returned with the introduction of the Brand to Brand Invitational, though under stricter guidelines than the previous Wild Card Rule. This happened largely as a result of the
COVID-19 pandemic The COVID-19 pandemic is an ongoing global pandemic A pandemic (from , , "all" and , , "local people" the 'crowd') is an of an that has spread across a large region, for instance multiple or worldwide, affecting a substantial numbe ...

COVID-19 pandemic
, in which several wrestlers have opted to not perform during the outbreak, thus resulting in fewer available talent on each show.


Pay-per-views

The separation of the WWE roster between two brands also intended to split the
pay-per-view Pay-per-view (PPV) is a type of or service that enables a viewer to pay to watch individual events via private telecast. Events can be purchased through a platform using their , an automated telephone system, or through a live . There has been ...
offerings, which began with Bad Blood in June 2003. The original idea had the "major" pay-per-view events at the time (Royal Rumble, SummerSlam, Survivor Series, and WrestleMania) would contain the only instances where wrestlers from different brands would interact with each other, and even among the four shows only the Royal Rumble and WrestleMania would have wrestlers from different brands competing against each other. Wrestlers, as a result, appeared only in two-thirds of the shows in a given year, and thus appeared in fewer shows compared to before the brand extension. With single-brand PPVs in place, WWE was able to add more pay-per-view events to their offerings, such as Taboo Tuesday/Cyber Sunday, New Year's Revolution,
December to Dismember December to Dismember was a professional wrestling Professional wrestling is a type of athletic exhibition and entertainment involving wrestling matches whose progress and outcome are planned in advance, typically between performers with establi ...
, and
The Great American Bash The Great American Bash is a professional wrestling Professional wrestling is a type of athletic exhibition and entertainment involving wrestling matches whose progress and outcome are planned in advance, typically between performers with establi ...

The Great American Bash
. Eventually, WWE abandoned the practice of single-brand pay-per-view events following
WrestleMania 23 WrestleMania 23 was the 23rd annual WrestleMania professional wrestling pay-per-view (PPV) List of WWE pay-per-view events, event produced by WWE, World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE). It was held for wrestlers from the promotion's Raw (WWE brand), ...

WrestleMania 23
. December to Dismember and New Year's Revolution were cancelled following the announcement. With the reintroduction of the brand extension in 2016, single-branded pay-per-view events returned, and seven more pay-per-view events were added in 2017 so that each brand could have their own pay-per-view each month, in addition to the four major pay-per-views, in which both brands were involved. The only exception to this were the two months leading up to
WrestleMania 33 WrestleMania 33 was the 33rd annual WrestleMania professional wrestling pay-per-view (PPV) List of WWE pay-per-view and WWE Network events, event and WWE Network event produced by WWE for their Raw (WWE brand), Raw and SmackDown (WWE brand), SmackD ...
in order to build the feuds for that event, and the two months (including the month of WrestleMania) following WrestleMania to begin new feuds for each brand. For example, February 2017 only had a SmackDown pay-per-view while March only had one for Raw. WrestleMania 33 was on April 2 and Raw had its first post-WrestleMania pay-per-view on April 30, while only SmackDown had a pay-per-view in May. This also happened in 2018, however, for 2018, WWE announced that all pay-per-views following
WrestleMania 34 #REDIRECT WrestleMania 34 WrestleMania 34 was the 34th annual WrestleMania professional wrestling pay-per-view List of WWE pay-per-view events, event and WWE Network List of WWE Network events, event produced by WWE for their Raw (WWE brand), Raw a ...

WrestleMania 34
would be dual-branded, abandoning the single-brand practice for a second time. The 2018
Elimination Chamber The Elimination Chamber is a professional wrestling Professional wrestling is a type of athletic exhibition and entertainment involving wrestling matches whose progress and outcome are planned in advance, typically between performers with esta ...
and Fastlane events were the last two brand-exclusive pay-per-views for Raw and SmackDown, respectively.


Championships

Initially, the Undisputed WWE Championship and the original WWE Women's Championship were available to both brands. The other championships were exclusive to the brand the champion was a part of. When the brand extension began, Raw received the Intercontinental Championship and
European ChampionshipA European Championship is the top level International sport, international sports competition between Europe, European athletes or sports teams representing their respective countries or professional sports club, sports clubs. In the plural, the E ...
when their respective holders were drafted, while SmackDown became the exclusive home for the
World Tag Team Championship #REDIRECT World tag team championship#REDIRECT World tag team championship The world tag team championship is the name usually given to the primary tag team championships in professional wrestling Professional wrestling is a type of athletic ...
and the original
Cruiserweight ChampionshipCruiserweight Championship may refer to: * NXT Cruiserweight Championship * List of cruiserweight boxing champions * Cruiserweight (professional wrestling)#Major championships, List of major cruiserweight professional wrestling championships * A ''c ...
. With several specialty championships being exclusive to one brand, numerous wrestlers were left with no title to fight for except for the Hardcore Championship, which although a property of SmackDown after the draft, it was contested under different rules than the other championships—the European and Hardcore championships were later unified with the Intercontinental Championship in July and August 2002, respectively, deactivating both championships. The issue of specialty championships being exclusive to one brand was partially corrected in September 2002. When SmackDown general manager
Stephanie McMahon Stephanie McMahon Levesque (born Stephanie Marie McMahon []; September 24, 1976) is an American businesswoman and retired professional wrestler. She is the chief brand officer (CBO) of WWE and appears as an authority figure on the Raw Raw is an ...

Stephanie McMahon
announced that Undisputed Champion
Brock Lesnar Brock Edward Lesnar (; born July 12, 1977) is an United States, American-Canada, Canadian Professional wrestling, professional wrestler, retired Mixed martial arts, mixed martial artist, and retired professional American football, football pla ...
signed a deal to exclusively appear on ''SmackDown'', Raw general manager
Eric Bischoff Eric Aaron Bischoff (born May 27, 1955) is an American entrepreneur, television producer, professional wrestling booker, podcast host, and on-screen personality. He is best known for serving as Executive Producer and later Senior Vice Presiden ...

Eric Bischoff
introduced the
World Heavyweight ChampionshipWorld heavyweight championship may refer to: * List of heavyweight boxing champions, World heavyweight boxing championship (professional) ** World Colored Heavyweight Championship (early twentieth-century) * World heavyweight championship (profession ...
for Raw. Shortly thereafter, Raw became the exclusive brand for the World Tag Team Championship, the Intercontinental Championship, and the Women's Championship. Meanwhile, SmackDown created the
WWE Tag Team Championship WWE (formerly the WWF, WWWF, and its predecessor, Capitol Wrestling) has maintained at least one primary tag team championship for its male performers since 1958 (except for a two year interim between 1967 and 1969). Whenever brand division has ...
and revived the United States Championship. The end result was each brand having four championships: World Heavyweight, Intercontinental, World Tag Team, and Women's titles for Raw; WWE, United States, Tag Team, and Cruiserweight titles for SmackDown. When ECW was revived in 2006 as a third brand, the
ECW World Heavyweight Championship The ECW World Heavyweight Championship was a professional wrestling Professional wrestling is a form of entertainment and performing art, which combines athletics with performance. It comprises of exhibitions, called 'matches', held by touri ...
was reactivated as the brand's only championship. Over the course of the first brand extension, these championships switched between brands, usually due to the result of the annual draft. The Cruiserweight title, however, was the only championship to never switch brands, staying on SmackDown from 2002 until the championship's retirement on September 28, 2007. In October 2007, SmackDown and ECW began a talent exchange agreement, which meant that SmackDown wrestlers could appear on ECW and vice versa. This allowed the United States Championship and WWE Tag Team Championship to be shared between the two brands. In July 2008, the
WWE Divas Championship The WWE Divas Championship was a women's professional wrestling championship in WWE. The championship was created by WWE in 2008, and was introduced as part of the WWE brand extension via a storyline by then SmackDown General Manager Vick ...
was created for SmackDown, allowing SmackDown's women wrestlers to compete for a title. A talent exchange between ECW and Raw then began in September 2008. After of ECW became World Tag Team Champions, they appeared more frequently on the Raw brand, moving to a feud with reigning WWE Tag Team Champions of SmackDown, brothers Carlito and Primo Colon. The teams fought several non-title and title bouts for their respective brands' tag team championships before the two fought in a winner-take-all title unification lumberjack match at
WrestleMania XXV WrestleMania 25 (also marketed as The 25th Anniversary of WrestleMania) was the 25th annual WrestleMania professional wrestling pay-per-view (PPV) List of WWE pay-per-view events, event produced by WWE, World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE). It took ...
. Carlito and Primo would go on to win the contest, forming the Unified WWE Tag Team Championship. The tag team championships remained separate titles, but were defended collectively as the Unified WWE Tag Team Championship until the then-anonymous general manager of Raw announced that the World Tag Team Championship would be retired in favor of continuing the WWE Tag Team Championship, which received a new, single set of belts. On February 16, 2010, the ECW Championship was deactivated along with the ECW brand. On September 19, 2010, at Night of Champions, the Women's Championship was unified with the Divas Championship, retiring the Women's Championship in the process; the Divas Championship was briefly referred to as the Unified WWE Divas Championship. The first brand extension would then end a year later and all champions could appear on both shows. In 2012, NXT became a developmental brand for WWE and they introduced the
NXT Championship The NXT Championship is a world championship created and promoted by the American professional wrestling promotion WWE, defended as the top championship of their NXT brand division. It is one of WWE's three world championships, alongside the ...
that year, followed by the
NXT Women's Championship The NXT Women's Championship is a women's professional wrestling championship created and promoted by the American promotion WWE, defended on their NXT brand division. It is one of the top singles championships for women among WWE's three m ...
and
NXT Tag Team Championship The NXT Tag Team Championship is a professional wrestling tag team Professional wrestling championship, championship created and promoted by the United States, American professional wrestling promotion, promotion WWE, defended on their NXT (WWE bra ...
in 2013. On December 15, 2013, at TLC: Tables, Ladders & Chairs, the World Heavyweight Championship was unified with the WWE Championship to become the WWE World Heavyweight Championship. The title retained the lineage of the WWE Championship and the World Heavyweight Championship was retired. The name was reverted to WWE Championship on June 27, 2016. At
WrestleMania 32 WrestleMania 32 was the 32nd annual WrestleMania professional wrestling pay-per-view (PPV) event and WWE Network event produced by WWE. It took place on April 3, 2016, at the AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas Arlington is a city in the U.S. ...
on April 3, 2016, the Divas Championship was retired and then replaced with a brand-new WWE Women's Championship. After five years, a new brand extension was introduced on July 19, 2016. Raw drafted the WWE Women's Champion, the United States Champion, and the WWE Tag Team Champions, while SmackDown drafted the WWE Champion and the Intercontinental Champion; NXT champions were ineligible to be drafted. This distribution of championships remained unchanged at the Battleground pay-per-view, which took place the Sunday immediately following the draft. With the WWE Championship being defended exclusively on SmackDown, Raw commissioner Stephanie McMahon and general manager
Mick Foley Michael Francis "Mick" Foley (born June 7, 1965) is an American actor, author, comedian, retired professional wrestler, and color commentator. He is currently signed to WWE. Foley worked for many wrestling promotions, including the World Wres ...

Mick Foley
introduced the
WWE Universal Championship The WWE Universal Championship is a world heavyweight championshipWorld heavyweight championship may refer to: * List of heavyweight boxing champions, World heavyweight boxing championship (professional) ** World Colored Heavyweight Championshi ...
to be Raw's world title. As SmackDown was lacking a tag team championship and a women's championship, SmackDown commissioner Shane McMahon and general manager Daniel Bryan introduced the
SmackDown Tag Team Championship The WWE SmackDown Tag Team Championship is a professional wrestling world tag team championship created and promoted by the United States, American professional wrestling promotion, promotion WWE, defended on their SmackDown (WWE brand), SmackDown ...
and SmackDown Women's Championship. Subsequently, the WWE Women's Championship and the WWE Tag Team Championship were renamed as the Raw Women's Championship and the Raw Tag Team Championship, respectively. With this, each brand had a
world championship A world championship is generally an international competition open to elite competitors from around the world, representing their nations, and winning such an event will be considered the highest or near highest achievement in the sport, game, o ...
, a secondary championship, a
tag team championship A championship or title in professional wrestling is a recognition promoted by Professional wrestling promotion, professional wrestling organizations. Championship reigns are determined by professional wrestling match types, professional wrestling ...
, and a Championship (professional wrestling)#Gender championships, women's championship. Since Raw became the exclusive home of WWE's revived Cruiserweight (professional wrestling), cruiserweight division, they also created a new WWE Cruiserweight Championship. Beginning November 29, 2016, in addition to ''Raw'', the Cruiserweight Championship was defended on the cruiserweight-exclusive show, ''WWE 205 Live, 205 Live''.
205 Live ''WWE 205 Live'', also shortened to ''205 Live'' (pronounced as "two-o-five live"), is a professional wrestling Professional wrestling is a type of athletic exhibition and entertainment involving wrestling matches whose progress and outcome are ...
would become its own brand in 2018, making the title exclusive to the brand. The WWE United Kingdom Championship was unveiled in December 2016 with its inaugural holder determined in January 2017. The title later became the top championship for the United Kingdom-based NXT spinoff,
NXT UK ''NXT UK'' is a professional wrestling Professional wrestling is a type of athletic exhibition and entertainment involving wrestling matches whose progress and outcome are planned in advance, typically between performers with established chara ...
, which debuted in mid-2018 and also introduced the NXT UK Women's Championship and NXT UK Tag Team Championship. A secondary title of the NXT brand was also introduced in mid-2018, the NXT North American Championship. In early 2019, the WWE Women's Tag Team Championship was established to be shared between Raw, SmackDown, and NXT. In May 2019, the WWE 24/7 Championship was established. Defended across all five of WWE's brands, it is open to anyone, regardless of gender or WWE employment status. In October 2019, after NXT's creative team took over 205 Live, the WWE Cruiserweight Championship was renamed to NXT Cruiserweight Championship, with the title now shared between 205 Live and NXT, and was later extended to NXT UK in January 2020.https://pwinsider.com/article/129829/the-future-of-205-live-revealed.html?p=1 A secondary title was later introduced for NXT UK called the NXT UK Heritage Cup with its own special stipulations. Subsequently the NXT Women's Tag Team Championship was created for NXT while the WWE Women's Tag Team Championship is shared between
Raw Raw is an adjective usually describing: * Raw materials, basic materials from which products are manufactured or made * Raw food, uncooked food Raw or RAW may also refer to: Computing * .RAW, a proprietary mass spectrometry data format * Raw audi ...
and WWE SmackDown, SmackDown.


References

{{DEFAULTSORT:Wwe Brand Extension WWE brand extension, 2002 introductions